For Want of Coffee

Vince Pawless (left) and Andy Serna. (Monte Dutton photos)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 9:54 a.m.

The Patriots beat the Ravens.

I’m going out of my mind trying to sell my novels.

The new coffeemaker hasn’t arrived yet.

By Monte Dutton

Having to get up and drive out to the truck stop for a gigantic mug of Dark Roast is a chore, but now I’ve had it, and breakfast, and, inexplicably, I watched NASCAR shows on NBC Sports right up until Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe filled my high definition, and, now, thank God, Aerial America is coming on The Smithsonian Channel, and this blog will have a pleasant, soothing background.

Life isn’t exactly great, but it’s promising.

The Weather Channel has a live feed from Minot, North Dakota, and there’s a 30-percent chance of rain here. Just so someone else can write “we need the rain,” here it is. We need the rain.

Minor bowl games will begin on Saturday, and that’s a grand opening I’m probably going to miss because I will be out on free-lance assignment and hence unable to savor the New Mexico Lobos against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. I might be home in time for the latter stages of Southern Mississippi versus Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

I don’t have a big rooting interest in those games.

Most weeks my novels sell better during the week than on weekends. This week, so far, is an exception. Cowboys Come Home, my western about a couple World War II vets coming home to Texas, surged over the weekend, probably in no small part because of its discovery in the part of the Lone Star State where the story takes place, and definitely in no small part because of the efforts of my friend Vince Pawless, who lives thereabouts.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) is on Kindle sale at a whopping $.99 until this year of my and America’s discontent finally ends. It’s about a football coach who loses virtually everything except his life (and damn near that) and mounts the big comeback in the most unexpected ways. In this one novel, I wrote about football, Jesus, music, weed, and sex, both hetero- and homo-. The central character, Chance Benford, is either a con man, a flawed hero, a man of God, a hypocrite, or, in the opinion of his creator (me, not God, Who would be his Creator), all of those things. In my view, Chance is basically a good man who does what it takes, however outrageous, to get his life back on track.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016) is my best selling book to date. It’s been out since spring. It’s a story of small-town corruption that has the potential to burst out statewide. The man running for governor, Denny Frawley, has an alcoholic wife, drug-dealing kids, scheming mistress, brutal henchmen, and a taste for violence and cocaine.

Typical politician. The voters seem to think he’s a pretty good guy.

I’d like to think if you’ve read one, you’d like to read them all — the three above plus Longer Songs: A Collection of Short Stories (2016), The Intangibles (2013), and The Audacity of Dope (2011) — but my tales aren’t for everyone.

If you’re not sure whether my made-up adventures are your cup of tea — or vat of truck-stop coffee — sample them in Longer Songs. The short stories all started with songs I wrote.

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, is on Kindle sale at $.99 for the entire month. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

(Design by Steven Novak)
(Design by Steven Novak)

 

I Love This Week

Classic Recall (Monte Dutton photo)
Classic Recall (Monte Dutton photo)

Gainesville, Texas, Saturday, April 16, 2016, 9:20 a.m.

I don’t have too much to say this cloudy Texas morning. Everything went fine on Friday. Classic Recall, a local band of musicians who play rock and roll from the 1960s and early ’70s, got a good reception, most obviously from three tiny kids who danced nonstop during the two-hour set.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Today’s music begins at 5 p.m. This guy came all the way from South Carolina to be the emcee, and he’s opening the indoor acoustic show at the State Theatre with a mix of old country tunes and a few he wrote himself.

So as to stop referring to myself in the third person in a blog, I’m really looking forward to it.

Of all places for an emcee from out of state! Texas, where there’s a little bit of everything, and everything stretches for miles and miles.

Literally, a guitar shelf.
Literally, a guitar shelf.

One of the reasons I’m here is that Vince Pawless, maker of splendid handmade guitars, and I are friends, dating back to the music book, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, which was published in 2007. While I was roaming around Texas, interviewing singer-songwriters, Vince, with whom I’d grown acquainted via our joint participation in an email exchange of Jerry Jeff Walker fans, offered to put me up for a night at his shop. We stayed up half that night talking music and guitars, and I wound up writing a chapter in the book about him.

NASCAR stuff.
NASCAR stuff.

That book, in turn, led me to teach myself how to play a little guitar, and learning how to play by ear led to the notion that I might be able to write songs myself. True to the Roots was also my last non-fiction book and the only one that wasn’t about sports.

People frequently tell me they like my songs. What I’ve been awaiting is for someone to say, “Hey, I’d like to record that song.” Lots of songs are out there, though. Most of those who like mine write their own.

More NASCAR stuff.
More NASCAR stuff.

Another reason I’m here is that, before this event is held each year, I write NASCAR contacts to ask them to donate items for use in the silent auction. It’s fun to look at all the other items up for charity sale. Two airline seats. An “Ornate Cross,” which I speculated onstage was a relic of the ancient Ornations. Paintings. Hand-painted chairs and benches. A year’s worth of farm-fresh eggs. Every item has its own story to tell.

Friday was the prelim, I suppose.

My job is to get the meter running, a little with my music but mostly with announcements and spontaneously witty remarks, the kind that may or may not actually be witty, such as my creation of the Ornations, who, in my imagination, lived in Asia Minor from the seventh through fifth centuries B.C. It was much easier than writing a novel about them.

Mexican food from the Shorty’s truck, parked out front of the theater, helped get me off my diet. Shorty’s is back tonight, so I expect I’ll stay off it until I begin the lonely trek home on Sunday. I doubt I’ll take my time. Traditionally, by the time this shindig is over, I’ve got a hankering for home. I may stop for yet another minor league baseball game. I doubt it, though. My definite intention is to be home in time to cover the Union County at Clinton baseball game on Tuesday night.

The faces are familiar. I’ve been coming to Gainesville a long time. My fifth novel, which is close to completion of its first draft, is a modern western set in a town a lot like this one. The Janus, Texas, of my story is the way I imagine this one at the end of World War II.

More Classic Recall.
More Classic Recall.

Following me onstage today is David Byboth, sound man and songwriter extraordinaire. Then Tom McElvain, who has historically made the biggest impression year after year, through Pawlessfest, the original name, Concert for VISTO at the indoor rodeo arena and now in the VISTO Days festival’s uptown locale, is sharing the State Theatre stage with Shayne Wimmer.

After I draw some pieces of paper out of hats, the concert moves outdoors, around the corner and down the street, for Bonedoggie and the Hickory Street Hellraisers, a group that is really original and uses instruments, such as the bazookie and the trombone, that are seldom seen in such affairs. Then it’s the rock virtuosity of the Oliver White Group. Oliver, by the way, is a fantastic performer and a great guy. I look forward to seeing him.

As a general rule, everybody gets along out here.

Several years ago, I wrote a song about Vince Pawless and his guitars: It’ll ring like a bell / Sing like a bird / Put in your hands / Be Merle Haggard …

Merle’s gone. Be whoever you want to be. Somebody’s got to take the reins.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

It’s out. $3.49. You can’t afford not to!

Forgive Us Our Trespasses fell eight months and eight days after the release of Crazy of Natural Causes. Eight is my lucky number, and this is pure luck. Apparently, my speed is about eight months. It’s a good pace I’m setting. You can order Trespasses here.

Longer_Songs_Cover_for_KindleI have a new volume of short stories, Longer Songs, which you may examine and preferably purchase here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes has been out since late July of 2015. It’s about colorful coach who loses everything and reinvents himself. Take a look.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The Intangibles (2013) is based on boyhood memories and is set in a small Southern town amid the tumult of the 1960s. Sample it. The Audacity of Dope (2011) is a freewheeling yarn about a pot-smoking songwriter who somehow becomes a national hero, and that comes with complications. It’s a trip.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here.

My short fiction, reviews and essays can be found here.

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50.